When it comes to thinking about entertaining for the holidays, I get butterflies in my stomach! I am the go to person who loves to cook the big holiday meals and have all of our friends and family over. If you do not have any place to go to celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas, come on over to our house for lots of good food and fun. We are not big on formality, so if you want a place that is laid back, our house is where you want to come. I usually start looking for new recipes a few months ahead of time so I can narrow down what I want to serve. Because I go from appetizers all the way through to the main course, I always have a big stack of recipes to sort through. Because we are big snackers, I try to include some fun foods you can just grab a chip or cracker and dive into. Because cheese balls are super easy to make and a crowd pleaser, I always make one sweet and one savory.

Sweet And Savory Cheese Ball Recipes

When it comes to setting up my dinner table for the holidays, I am as laid back in that area as I am with my cooking and entertaining in general. I like to use serving dishes and utensils which are attractive but do not make me look like I am trying too hard. I appreciate fine craftsmanship and when done properly, the product can stand on its own accord without me jumping up and down to scream about how awesome it is. That is how I feel about the glorious handmade and designed wooden utensils from Brad Bernhart with Earlywood Designs. I must say, these items are by far some of the most exquisite and lovingly made kitchen tools I have ever had the honor of using. The mission of Earlywood Designs is to create wooden kitchen utensils which can be passed down from generation to generation. This is how things should be, you know? Instead of buying these cheaply made and to be frank, ugly utensils from the retail chains, I know the products Earlywood Designs will not only hold up through the years, but will be something my kids will want to use in their own kitchens some day.

I received a variety of items from Brad, including his mini ironwood cutting/serving set, which retails for $28 on the Earlywood Designs website. To pair up the perfect appetizer for these amazingly handcrafted pieces, I chose the Sweet and Savory Cheese Ball Recipes. I knew they were just made for these appetizers, which are served up with the equally gorgeous small spreader sampler, made from 4 different wood options and also sells for $24. The woods you can choose from include Ironwood, Bloodwood, Jatoba, Hard Maple, and Mexican Ebony. I was also sent the trifecta, which when sold as a trio, sells for $32 and is the best of the best of the Earlywood Designs products.


The set consists of a tera scraper in the Mexican Ebony, which is used for many jobs, including cutting lasagna, chopping frozen ground beef apart or pairing with a second scraper to be used as a salad server. I also received the large spreader in the hard maple wood which is just perfect for spreading peanut butter, frosting or butter. Lastly, I received the must have large I flat saute, which is one of the most versatile tools in the collection. It can be used to get down and dirty in the big pot of pasta sauce you need to stir or it can scrap up dried on messes from your counter. This is definetly a set you are going to want to buy one for yourself and give as a gift this holiday season. You must browse through the entire collection for all of the wonderful products from Earlywood Designs.

mint ball

If you have a baby or a friend who is expecting, I have the perfect baby gift! Brad can make a baby or toddler spoon and engrave the baby’s name. They are made with a handle which is large and rounded, making it perfect for small hands to hold as they learn to feed themselves. Be sure to follow Earlywood Designs on Pinterest and Instagram. One USA reader will win $100 GC to be used on the Earlywood Designs website.

And as I said, these gorgeous handmade wooden utensils and cutting boards are perfect to serve my sweet and savory cheese ball recipes!

Sweet And Savory Cheese Ball Recipes
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
  • Savory Southwestern Bacon Jalapeno Cheese Ball:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup shredded, sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 fresh diced jalapenos (stess and seeds removed)
  • 6 pieces cooked bacon, crumbled, divided
  • ¼ cup chopped roasted pecans
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped yellow or orange bell pepper
  • Mint Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball:
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1½ tsp mint extract
  • green food coloring
  • 2 cups mini chocolate chips, divided (1/2 for inside and ½ for the outside)
  1. Savory Southwestern Bacon Jalapeno Cheese Ball:
  2. Combine cream cheese, cheddar cheese, cilantro, garlic, cumin, cayenne, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, half of the diced jalapenos and half of the crumbled cooked bacon.
  3. Place the roasted pecans, the remaining diced jalapenos and bacon along with the diced bell pepper on a plate. Stir together until well mixed. Line a small bowl with plastic wrap. Add cheese mixture and bring edges of plastic wrap together, forming a ball.
  4. Refrigerate 30 minutes and then remove from fridge and form into a ball. Remove plastic wrap and roll the cheese ball to coat with the bacon- jalapeno mixture.
  5. Refrigerate for at least an hour. About 10 minutes before serving, removed from fridge. Chill covered for at least an hour before serving. Serve with crackers.
  6. Mint Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball:
  7. Cream cream cheese and butter together. Gradually beat in powdered sugar and then beat in extract and food coloring until desired color is reached. Stir in one cup of mini chocolate chips.
  8. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate for at least one hour.
  9. Sprinkle ½ cup of mini chocolate chips on top of a piece of plastic wrap. Scoop out cream cheese mixture and place on top of chocolate chips. Sprinkle top of cream cheese with more chocolate chips.
  10. Wrap cheese ball with plastic wrap and place in a clean bowl. Press into bowl to form the cheese ball. Invert onto a serving board or cake stand. Sprinkle with more chocolate chips if needed.
  11. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Which of the two cheese ball recipes would you prefer, the sweet or savory?